US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Up-to-Date Chart

Chad P. Bown (PIIE)

October 11, 2019

This post, originally published on September 20, 2019, will be updated as China and the United States change their tariffs. For more information on trade war events, see "Trump's Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide."

The Trade War Is Suddenly Getting Worse

President Donald Trump's current trade plan would nearly double the average US tariff on imports from China in the six months between June 14 and December 15, 2019. Even Trump's October 11 announcement that he would not follow through with an earlier threat to increase tariffs from 25 to 30 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods (originally scheduled for October 15) will not temper this surge.

US tariffs averaged 12.0 percent right before an increase went into effect on June 15. If Trump's current plan is implemented on schedule, the average US tariff on Chinese imports will increase to 23.8 percent. Much of this is due to new 15 percent tariffs on a subset of $300 billion of imports scheduled to arrive on December 15.

China has timed its own tariff retaliation to coincide with Trump's actions. Its average tariff on imports from the United States has sharply escalated from 16.5 to 25.1 percent during the same six-month period.

The tariff changes taking place between June and December 2019 are large and swift. Since 2018, the trade war has proceeded in four stages. The first six months of 2018 featured only a moderate increase in tariffs. The months of July through September 2018 also had a sharp tariff increase on both sides: US average tariffs increased from 3.8 percent to 12.0 percent, and China's average tariffs increased from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent. In phase three, there was an eight-month period (September 25, 2018, through June 2019) of little change in tariffs. Starting June 1, 2019, the latest phase of tariff increases kicked in.

This chart was adapted from data available in Chad P. Bown’s blog post, “US-China Trade War: The Guns of August.” It was originally published on August 29, 2019, and updated based on the Trump administration’s announcements on September 11.

Data Disclosure

The data underlying this analysis are available here.